May 13, 2011

It's off to work I go

I spend the vast majority of my awake hours at a job that I didn't formally train for, nor is it in an area of personal interest. It really is quite disconnected from "life" in the sense that I show up to work, try to excel at it, and bring home a paycheck. This paycheck allows actual life and interest to be fueled.

I certainly know I am not the exception or a rare case here. The vast majority of people who have jobs live for the weekend, for 5:00, and for any time they are not actually at work. If this weren't the case, books such as this one (which came out this week) wouldn't really have a market.

Yet, despite these facts, spending the majority of your time in an area that is utterly disconnected from your real life can certainly take it's toll. I've been working as a grown-up, full-time'r with benefits for nearly seven years now and I'm already looking forward to retirement. I can't imagine having to do this for forty more years.

The standard Christian response to work is that whatever we do, we are to do it as though we are doing it unto God and not just man. This certainly is an important, amazing context to put your work into. This alone is and should be enough to provide you solid motivation to handle all the things you need to do at work (or wherever). However, like many Christian words and concepts, you can get desensitized to them when you hear them over and over, and this certainly has happened to me with that one.

This week I read a blog post that truly renewed my understanding of what we are to do as Christians, not only at work but in all of our daily activities.

Using a statement from the Starbucks CEO where he says, "Pouring espresso is an art, one that requires the barista to care about the quality of the beverage. If the barista only goes through the motions, if he or she does not care and produces an inferior espresso that is too weak or too bitter, then Starbucks has lost the essence of what we set out to do 40 years ago: inspire the human spirit.

I realize this is a lofty mission for a cup of coffee, but this is what merchants do. We take the ordinary—a shoe, a knife—and give it new life, believing that what we create has the potential to touch others’ lives because it touched ours."

The author goes on to say, "Here’s the point: the ordinary is not ordinary. Rather, it is in the ordinary that we are able to build people up and, yes, inspire the human spirit.

When you clean house for your family, or pour a cup of coffee, or take your car to the wash, you aren’t just doing small, mundane things. You are building building people up. You are making things better, and making a statement that people matter. Or, that’s how you ought to see it."

If Christians at work, school, home, the mall, at the grocery store, church and wherever else we go actively looked beyond what the actual action were are doing, and realize that it could actually be something the builds a person up, we obviously should do it. Many people may continually have to deal with others continually bringing them down, bashing them unfairly in many arenas of life.

Our individual actions - essentially the products which we ourselves manufacture and provide - can let people know that at minimum, at least you and I care enough about them to give them something good. And if somehow we could fan out and spread across various industries, venues, and circumstances and make these sort of changes in a diverse set of environments, imagine the amount of change we can introduce into the lives of so many. Wouldn't that be great? How can we make it happen?

Oh, that's right. We can.

Don't go to work just to work. Go to work to build people up.

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